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Alison Hammond has revealed that Paul O'Grady's friend Julian Clary has given her the seal of approval after she took over the late star's show For The Love Of Dogs.
Lily Savage star O'Grady passed away in 2023 at the age of 67, and for a while it wasn't known what would happen to his much-loved ITV programme about Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Then earlier this week it was confirmed that This Morning presenter Hammond would be taking over.
When This Morning started on Friday (2 February), Hammond's co-presenter Dermot O'Leary congratulated her on her new TV role and she shared that she'd had a sweet message from Clary that really touched her.
What, how, and why?
"He text me yesterday and he just said, well firstly he told me was in the Maldives - I was a little bit jealous!" she said. "And he just said, 'I am so happy that you got the job. Paul actually thought a lot of you Alison, thought very highly of you and he would be so happy as am I.'
"I just, it really like, got me. I'm so so happy. I just want to make him proud in his legacy at Battersea and I want to carry on that work because the charity does such good work and we just want some amazing homes for some wonderful dogs."
O'Leary asked Hammond whether she would be getting a dog of her own now that she is going to be fronting the programme.
"It's a massive responsibility and that's why I want to do the show, because I want to find out about dogs," she replied. "I have always wanted a dog. You have to take it very very seriously."
What happened to Paul O'Grady?
Comedian, actor and presenter O'Grady – who rose to fame as drag queen alter ego Lily Savage – died unexpectedly in March 2023 and at the time it was reported that he had passed away in bed beside his husband Andre Portasio.
Portasio confirmed his death in a moving statement, which said: "It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening. He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humour, wit and compassion. I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years."
What else has Alison Hammond said about For The Love Of Dogs?
Hammond has said that nobody can replace O'Grady but that she is delighted to be taking the show forwards. When the news was announced she posted on Instagram: "I’m thrilled to be joining team @battersea and helping dogs find special homes and continuing @paulogrady work.
"We all know he can never be replaced but we need to continue his work so that @battersea can continue to thrive and give forever homes to lots of deserving dogs."
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